My mother’s garments never seemed to grow old. Slack suits and twin sets from the seventies, woven from some synthetic substance that did not wear or tear, unlike the natural fibre of her skin. My aged mother’s delicate covering bled every time she stumbled. Worn out; worn to shreds. — "Going home", Disturbance, Dawn Garisch It has just gone six a.m. I walk my son down the road to the corner where we wait for his lift. The sun is rising, the light streaking the horizon gold. I comment on the morning buzz, the company we keep, power-walkers, the dog walkers, workers and school kids heading for the train. ‘The day carries on.’ Without you, the day must carry on. Al says, ‘Of course, but let me remind you that you’re wearing pyjamas.’ — Death and the After Parties, Joanne Hichens They fled with nothing, never stopping. Not even when his mother tripped, his sister, tied to her back, knocking her head so hard that a bump rose immediately. She had been crying, now she screamed. Yet still they ran, amid their own blood and spittle, as the black cloud of the burning valley hunted them, chasing them forward, forward, towards the blue sky. — An Island, Karen Jennings Now Shirley, you know, became a mother quite young – sixteen or something like that. She ran away from home with newborn Jason; his naeltjie at his belly hadn’t even fallen off yet. Came to Cape Town where she thought no one would find her. The Northern Cape was far. — "Homeful", Let It Fall Where It Will, Lester Walbrugh Lexi shrugged off her coat. She heard the rustle of beads as her mother, Sandra, came through the hippie curtain from the kitchen at the end of the long hallway. Like the town was bisected by a highway, so was their house by the passage. ‘I thought you would be asleep by now.’ Lexi feigned surprise. ‘I waited up. You’re my responsibility now.’ Her mother was in a kaftan, her hair long and loose. She looked like she’d escaped from the Mamas and the Papas. ‘Yay.’ The joys of being dumped and fleeced by her husband never ceased. — A Fractured Land, Melissa A. Volker I still remember my mother’s words when we got in the car to go to mass. ‘It’s Christmas, Mary, not a funeral.’ But I’ve always worn black. I would have said she was tempting providence, if that wasn’t exactly the sort of thing she would say. I should have, though. When we got home, a bunch of armed response cars were blocking the gates to the complex. The police were there. Men in bulletproof vests. Guns. — A Hibiscus Coast, Nick Mulgrew Not a word was exchanged between us as my mother and I made our way home. She must have seen how disappointed I was for, as soon as we walked into the house, she turned to me, demanding – ‘Where is the form?’ Puzzled, I looked at her. What use was that form now? What would she do with it? Only my father could sign it; and he had flatly refused, hadn’t he? ‘Give me the form, Thembi.’ ‘Why, Mama?’ ‘Letha, bo!’ My mother forged Baba’s signature. I applied for a passport, astounded by my mother’s actions. She had shown me a side of her I didn’t suspect existed. — Theatre Road, Sindiwe Magona The lagoon has forgotten us like a son sometimes forgets his father but never his mother — "Port is red and starboard green", For Everything That Is Pointless and Perfect, Stephen Symons But tell me this: where is his irrepressible, eternal soul? Because that is what interests me more. Where is his spirit, free of the gritty, grey residue of his body, which I have felt with my own hands? Because I, with the five senses of a woman, and undeniable sixth one 16 of a mother, cannot fathom the dimension within which my child now exists. — "Lost", Earth to Mom, Sue Brown
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The House on the Corner
Like his mother, Emile Oliphant has always collected men. His mother called them her lovers. Emile calls them his life.
— Meet now?
— Do you have a place?
— No. Any ideas? I’m open.
— Bloubergstrand. The parking lot there?
— Give me twenty minutes. I’m in a blue Opel.
— White Golf.
They met at the crepuscular beachfront. The stranger’s hand fell on his shoulder, and the frisson drew a gasp from Emile.
Continue reading: Johannesburg Review of Books
New collection of short stories from Grabouw’s Lester Walbrugh
Walbrugh’s debut anthology is titled Let It Fall Where It Will and was published by Cape Town-based Karavan Press at the beginning of November. The book was officially launched on Saturday 21 November.
Walbrugh grew up and completed his schooling in Grabouw, his home town. He looked back on his childhood in his quiet Western Cape town with much fondness.
“We played in fields, climbed trees and swam in the streams well into our teenage years. However, Grabouw was a small community then and everyone knew everyone, which could be suffocating at times.”
Growing up there, and having not read stories he could relate, to gave him the inspiration to begin writing.
“I like to think that reading indiscriminately has helped my writing in general,” Walbrugh said.
Continue reading: The South African
And here are a few more photos from the launch:
It feels like a miracle. We are going to have a socially distanced book launch for Lester Walbrugh’s story collection, Let It Fall Where It Will!
Thank you to the three literary Fairy Godmothers who are making it possible: Marion Smith of Elgin Ridge Wine Estate for providing a safe space for such an event during lockdown; Christy Weyer of Liberty Books for agreeing to sell books at the launch (in the time ‘before’ we were hoping to have the launch at her beautiful bookshop in Grabouw, but it is too small for a safe gathering of this kind); and, Bettina Wyngaard for agreeing to do the interview with Lester. Both authors grew up in Grabouw and it will be wonderful to celebrate Let It Fall Where It Will with them on their home turf.
‘Hi,’ he said. He had perfect teeth.
We clinked glasses, his martini with my local craft gin cocktail.
‘Let it fall where it will,’ he said.
The die is cast in Lester Walbrugh’s debut collection of stories. Set in the Western
Cape and in Japan, Let It Fall Where It Will showcases the stunning versatility of the
author. Ranging from witty to poignant, occasionally employing magic realism to
great effect, the stories capture a vibrant chorus of voices and fearlessly explore
contemporary topics of identity and sexuality while illuminating South Africa’s
troubled past and the shadows it throws on our present.
The rooms are aglow, another morning with portals of light. Its clarity is blinding.
Publication date: 2 November 2020
“A thrilling debut … gritty and intimate. Walbrugh’s prose, whether in the Cape
vernacular or standard, illuminates a diverse world with subtlety and wit.”
— Zoë Wicomb
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
LESTER WALBRUGH is from Grabouw in the Western Cape. His acclaimed short stories have been published in, among others, the anthologies of Short.Sharp.Stories and Short Story Day Africa, New Contrast and, most recently, Hair: Weaving & Unpicking Stories of Identity. He has lived in the UK and Japan and is currently back in his hometown, working on his first novel.
Author photograph by Francois F. Swanepoel.
For the whole of October, if you pre-order either of the below titles, you will receive 20% off the retail price! The Book Lounge will also deliver free of charge within 20km of the store, and will arrange signed/dedicated copies as requested. Both books will be published early November. Click the cover images to pre-order on The Book Lounge website, or send them an email to request an invoice.
Let It Fall Where It Will by Lester Walbrugh
The Book Lounge pre-order special: R224
“A thrilling debut … gritty and intimate. Walbrugh’s prose, whether in the Cape vernacular or standard, illuminates a diverse world with subtlety and wit.”
— Zoë Wicomb
Lester Walbrugh is from Grabouw in the Western Cape. His acclaimed short stories have been published in, among others, Short.Sharp.Stories’s Die Laughing, Short Story Day Africa’s anthologies, New Contrast and most recently, Hair: Weaving and Unpicking Stories of Identity. He has lived in the UK and Japan and is currently back in his hometown, working on his first novel.
Let It Fall Where It Will is Lester Walbrugh’s debut collection of stories. Set in the Cape and Japan, the stories showcase the stunning versatility of the author. Ranging from witty to poignant, they capture a fascinating diversity of voices and fearlessly explore contemporary topics of identity and sexuality as well as South Africa’s deeply troubled past. A few employ magic realism to great effect. The book’s epigraph and title were inspired by Adam Small’s poem, ‘Die Here het gaskommel’.
die Here het gaskommel
en die dice het verkeerd geval vi’ ons
daai’s maar al
Death and the After Parties by Joanne Hichens
The Book Lounge pre-order special: R256
“If you have loved, lost or grieved … then this book will resonate deeply. Searching for a new place in her changed world, Joanne Hichens reminds us that especially in our darkest moments we need to embrace our vulnerability in order to find strength. Tender, courageous, compelling.”
— Tracy Going, author of Brutal Legacy
Joanne Hichens, author and editor, lives in Cape Town. She has edited numerous short story anthologies, including Bad Company, The Bed Book of Short Stories, Hair: Weaving and Unpicking Stories of Identity, Bloody Satisfied, the award-winning Adults Only, Incredible Journey, Die Laughing and Trade Secrets. Her crime novels are Out to Score (co-written), Divine Justice (soon to be published in the United States), and Sweet Paradise. Her YA novels, Stained and Riding the Wave, were both shortlisted for the Sanlam Literature Award.
Joanne Hichens lost, in quick succession, her husband, both her parents, and her mother-in-law – two deaths anticipated, two coming as the worst kind of shock. In this memoir of grief and recovery, she writes with honesty and humour of death, our ‘constant companion’, and the stumbling journey through the country of grief. By turns searing and sparkling, her account gives compelling insight into the losses that stalk us all, while also celebrating the mainstays of life – friendship, family, and the memories of those we love and lose.
It gives me enormous pleasure to share the cover of the next Karavan Press title with you – the stunning debut short story collection Let It Fall Where It Will by Lester Walbrugh!
Karavan Press is excited to announce that we will be publishing the debut short story collection by the excellent local writer Lester Walbrugh. We signed the agreement last week at Liberty Books, a cosy bookshop in Grabouw, Lester’s hometown.
Lester’s short stories have been published in several anthologies and literary magazines. This year, his “The Space(s) Between Us” has made the longlist of the prestigious Short Story Day Africa Prize and will feature in the SSDA anthology, Hotel Africa; and his “Hairs and Graces” will be published in Hair: Weaving and Unpicking Stories of Identity in September. We look forward to putting together a selection of his best published and new work and sharing it with lovers of the short story. Watch this space for further details!